Troubled Gazelle Group loses two more member colleges

Troubled Gazelle Group loses two more member colleges

Two more colleges have quit the troubled Gazelle Group, including one of its founder members, FE Week can reveal.

There are 11 colleges still listed on its website — but Gazelle has now indicated that two of them, Warwickshire College Group and City College Plymouth, have left.

Warwickshire was one of five colleges which helped found the group five years ago, of which only City College Norwich remains.

Gazelle’s executive director Carolyn Chapman-Lees told FE Week that the group had “undergone a restructure”.

She said the group’s other remaining members were Activate Learning, Amersham & Wycombe College, Barking & Dagenham College, Cambridge Regional College, Cardiff & Vale College, Glasgow Kelvin College, Highbury College Portsmouth, and South West College.

She added: “Our website is currently being updated and this information will be amended accordingly.”

Eight months ago, Gazelle published the results of a membership review, which was prompted when several other colleges left the group, and which led management to slash annual membership fees from £35k to £15k.

In June 2014 meanwhile, FE Week revealed that it had raked in around £3.5m from more than 20 member colleges, in membership subs and other fees.

The group was formed in around 2011 with a promise to “develop innovative new learning models and new partnerships with business to deliver an improved outcome for students, their communities and the economy”.

It came under fire, however, over a perceived lack of return-on-investment analysis, and its failure to justify such expenditure of public money amid shrinking FE budgets.

Companies House also confirmed that the Norfolk-based Gazelle Global Ltd and the Gazelle Foundation had missed their April 30 deadlines for filing accounts.

However, no accounts are due for Gazelle Colleges Group — which was only set up three months ago — until November 2017.

Asked to clarify the situation, Ms Chapman-Lees revealed that Gazelle Foundation and Gazelle Global had “now ceased trading” and were therefore “not required to file accounts”.

She said: “Gazelle Colleges Group is a new legal entity and will be required to submit accounts in the future.”

A Warwickshire College Group spokesperson told FE Week: “After careful consideration, we decided not to proceed with membership of the newly created Gazelle Colleges Group organisation.”

City College Plymouth was unable to comment before we went to press.

Fintan Donahue

Fintan Donahue

Fintan Donohue retired from his role as Gazelle’s chief executive at the turn of the year, after more than four years at the helm.

At the time, Stella Mbubaegbu, principal of Highbury College Portsmouth and an officer for Gazelle Colleges Group, said: “All of the members past and present pay tribute to the vision and groundbreaking thinking that Fintan has brought to the enterprise and entrepreneurship agenda in our sector.”